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Sitting on the fence?
- Jacob Ninan
Once I was taking a class on spiritual matters, and a young man who was just out of Bible college was not very happy. At the end of the session he took me aside and corrected me saying I shouldn't have been emphatic on interpreting things in what he called as 'my way'. I should have just said certain scholars thought this way and others that way. Should I have just asked the audience what they thought about different things and left things there without telling them what I thought? I thought that even if it was OK to do this in an academic setting, it would be wrong to leave things hanging in the air. We need to pass on our understanding and convictions to others to take them forward (2Ti.2:2). If we are not convinced ourselves of the things we speak of, how can the hearers or readers catch the enthusiasm?
If we are not convinced about the things we say we believe in, how can they help us in the time of trial? Then it will be seen that what we had been imagining we believed were just ideas in our head we were not sure of. Mere ideas like that can't give strength for us to face situations of life. Elijah asked the people of Israel how long they were going to waver between God and Baal (1Ki.18:21). They preferred to sit on the fence, unwilling to take a stand. There are some Hindus who are willing to consider Jesus as yet another God to be worshipped but who are unwilling to take His word that He is the only One (Jn.14:6). There are many Christians who know what their church practises is not Biblical, but will go along with it, and there are other Christians who obey God (e.g., in water baptism) in secret and remain in churches which oppose that. Assuming that God has accepted their 'secret obedience', we can see that they are unable to be a witness for Christ for what He has taught them or done in their lives.
Paul was not like this at all! After opposing Christians to the extent of putting them to death for what he believed was blasphemy against God, the moment he saw his mistake and understood Jesus was the Messiah and the Son of God, he immediately started preaching about Jesus (Ac.9:20). No wonder he became such a great apostle and a writer of Scriptures! When the young Phinehas obeyed God by killing a couple who who had joined with Baal (Nu.25:7,8), God honoured him by giving him spiritual responsibilities (vv.11,12).
Let us not sit on the fence anymore, and let us also not follow leaders blindly, accepting what they say or do. The young convert that Paul was at one time, he was bold enough to question the recognised leader of that time, Peter, when he was wrong (Ga.2:11). When it comes to God's truth, it is truth that is more important than the stature of the person who is going wrong. Insecure leaders try to avoid people questioning them by threatening them of dire consequences if they touched the anointed or left their church! But God will honour those who honour Him (1Sa.2:30).